Evaluate Tree Health Before Summer Storms Roll In

Adam Cervin
Written by Adam Cervin
Updated June 18, 2015
man installing cable in tree
An arborist from The Davey Tree Expert Company installs a steel cable to limit branch movement in a weak tree. (Photo courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company)

Summertime brings picnics, juicy watermelon and cool iced tea enjoyed under the shade of a tree.

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But it’s also when hurricanes and storms are most common. Taking steps to protect trees now prevents potential damage later. It’s a simple fact: Healthy trees endure summer storms better than unhealthy trees.

Severe weather outbreaks can stress trees’ roots systems, branches and leaves. And if the tree is already stressed, a storm could cause irreparable damage. Proper maintenance on a large, mature tree can help preserve the tree’s beauty, extend its life and reduce the risk of branch failure.

Maximize your safety, protect your property and reduce damage to your trees with proper care.  

CHECK OUT: Angie's List Guide to Tree Care and Services

Inspecting your trees

There are three factors to keep in mind when preparing your trees for high winds and severe weather: the density of the tree canopy, the strength of the branches and the health of the root system.

Before summer storms hit, evaluate whether your tree needs to be removed by looking at these main characteristics.

  • Is the soil heaving at the base of the trunk beneath the canopy?

  • Is the trunk chipped, or is the bark peeling and cracking?

  • Are there cavities in the trunk or large scaffold branches?

  • Are there dead or hanging branches on the upper canopy of the tree?

  • Do you see fine twigs without living buds near the ends of branches?

Recent excavation near a tree can also damage its roots, which in turn weakens the tree, increasing its susceptibility to decay, pests and wind damage.

If your tree has any of the above, it may be time to stake, brace or remove limbs to prepare for severe weather. These steps support trees and reduce strain endured from withstanding strong summer winds. 

Staking a tree

Staking helps train new trees to stand on their own. It supports trees firmly enough to prevent them from falling, but loosely enough to allow all the main stems to move slightly in the wind.

Stakes can be removed as soon as trees can stand on their own, usually within the first year.

RELATED: How Can I Protect My Tree from a Lightning Strike?

tree service professional pointing to tree with customer
Look for experienced, certified arborists to handle your tree service needs. (Photo courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company)

Bracing a tree

Cables and brace rods help reduce the risk of weak branches or multiple stem failure.

High strength steel cables are attached to bolts that are installed in the upper crown of a tree to limit the branch movement. Braces are installed through unions of weak branches and multiple stems to support structures and prevent twisting.

Supplemental structural support systems should only be installed based on a thorough inspection and evaluation by a certified arborist. 

Removing a tree

Removing a tree from your landscape can be a difficult decision to make. If a tree poses a risk to homeowners and surrounding objects, it's time to say goodbye. Leave projects like these in the hands of a professionally trained arborist.

MORE: How Much Does Tree Removal Cost?

Summer storms are notorious for being merciless. This is why it’s important to check trees when you’re preparing for high winds and severe weather. Consult a certified arborist to determine if staking, bracing or removing trees is the right option for you. An arborist can tell you your options and explain the benefits your tree can provide with proper maintenance.

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As of June 18, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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